USA Baseball ends Kingsport Axmen’s season over threats to players

USA Baseball, the national governing body for amateur baseball, has decided to end the Kingsport Axmen’s season after the team received threats from a former player, according to WJHL TV in Tennessee.

In an open letter to the Kingsport community dated July 15, 2021, the team’s managing company, Boyd Sports explained the situation.

“The loyalty of the baseball fans of Kingsport drives us in everything we do. For that reason, we know we owe you transparency, and we are writing to update you on difficult events that have impacted our season,” the letter begins.

“Recently, Kingsport Axmen players experienced troubling and concerning behavior involving a former teammate, who is now under the care of medical professionals. Since becoming aware of this matter, Boyd Sports, USA Baseball and Major League Baseball all have aimed to act with the best interests of the welfare of the players and staff in mind. After discussions regarding these unusual circumstances, USA Baseball made the decision to allow the players of the Kingsport Axmen to return home.

“Because of this turn of events, we are adjusting as necessary. We are in the process of assembling a travel team with a different group of players to complete the season, because a decision like this affects not only the Kingsport Axmen but every other team in the league’s schedule. We do not want to let down our other nine partners in the Appalachian League.

“This has been a challenge for all of us, and we appreciate your understanding and loyalty. Boyd Sports is committed to our fans, season ticket holders and corporate partners in Kingsport long term. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to the bright future of baseball in Kingsport,” said Chris Allen, President, Boyd Sports.

According to WJHL, former Kingsport pitcher Matthew Taylor was arrested for allegedly making threats, which led to the postponement of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games against Greeneville as a precaution. Taylor, a Kingsport native, was charged with false reports and harassment.

According to WJHL, court documents state that following his dismissal from the team, Taylor sent Snapchat messages to a player in which he said he would “kill everyone single one of y’all” and made references to “Columbine 2.0.”

The station also reported that Allen said those members of the Axmen who wished to continue playing could do so with other teams in the league if they desire.

The station reports that Boyd Sports also owns the Johnson City Doughboys, Greeneville Flyboys, and Elizabethton River Riders in the Appalachian League, plus the minor league Tennessee Smokies team in Sevierville.

The Axmen were 12-19 in the Appy’s West Division prior to the cancellation of the rest of their season.

Pulaski’s River Turtles had no games remaining with the Axmen this season.